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Jack Grodeska

Voting in the age of COVID 19

In this time of confusion and chaos, it seems that just about everything is politicized and disinformation abounds.  In the face of the pandemic, the same hold true for the constitutional act of voting.   Over the last few weeks, it has become clear that a third of the country believes that voting by mail is fraught with the danger of fraud, disenfranchisement, and dishonesty.  Two thirds of the country believe that the pandemic makes the act of voting a health hazard and that foreign actors are poised to attack our elections via digital voting machines.  But what are the facts?  What is true?

VOTING MACHINES:  In August of 2018 11-year-old Emmett Brewer hacked into a clone of the Florida Secretary of States website and changed all the ballots, at the hacking convention known as DEF CON.   The good news is that Monmouth County does not use Electronic Voting Machines connected to the internet.

Instead, Monmouth County deploys some 950 AVC Advantage DRE voting machines manufactured by Dominion Voting Systems.  DRE, or Direct Voting Equipment, “records votes by means of a ballot display provided with mechanical or electro-optical components that can be activated by the voter (typically buttons or a touchscreen); that processes data by means of a computer program; and that records voting data and ballot images in memory components. After the election it produces a tabulation of the voting data stored in a removable memory component and as printed copy. The system may also provide a means for transmitting individual ballots or vote totals to a central location for consolidating and reporting results from precincts at the central location.”

In 2008, Andrew Appel of Princeton university breached the AVC Advantage by installing fraudulent firmware in the machine, during an in-depth study by court order.  The report summary can be accessed HERE.  A video of the hacking of the AVC Advantage can be seen HERE.

In addition, The CDC says: “The virus that causes COVID-19, is mostly spread by respiratory droplets released when people talk, cough, or sneeze. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. Personal prevention practices (such as handwashing, staying home when sick) and environmental cleaning and disinfection are important actions election officials, poll workers, and voters can take to help lower the risk of COVID-19 spread.”   You can see the CDC Voting Guidelines HERE.

New Jersey 2020 General Election Mail in Voting:  The NJ State Legislature and Governor Phil Murphy have determined that this year’s general election will be primarily accomplished by mail to prevent the spread of COVID 19.   Each registered voter will automatically receive their ballot at the address where they registered to vote. 

Next, all that needs to be done is Vote, Sign your ballot, Seal, and Return.  There are four ways to return your ballot.

By Mail: Make sure your ballot is postmarked on or before November 3 and received by your county’s Board of Elections on or before November 10.

Secure Ballot Drop Box:  Deposit your ballot in one of Monmouth Counties secure drop boxes by 8:00 p.m. on November 3.  For a list of drop box locations, click HERE.

Board of Elections Office:  Drop you ballot off at the Monmouth County Board of Elections located at 300 Halls Mill Road, Freehold NJ 07728, Phone: 732.431.7802.

In Person at your local Polling Station: Bring your ballot to your polling place by 8:00 p.m. on election day, November 3. Only the individual voter may bring their ballot to the polling station.

Regarding election security in Monmouth County:

Monmouth County will apply signature matching to all ballots.  If your ballot is missing a signature, or if your signature does not match your voter’s record, the Board of Elections will contact you to provide you with the opportunity to certify that you did, in fact, cast that ballot.

The County Boards of Elections will meet four days per week beginning on October 13, 2020 to begin verifying the signatures on the vote by mail ballots. Voters whose ballots are rejected for a missing or a mismatching signature, will be contacted and given the opportunity to remedy the signature problem.

For more information on voting procedures, click HERE.

There is a benefit to voting by mail that is not available when voting by machine.  Mail in ballots in New Jersey give you the opportunity to track your ballot online to determine if your ballot was received and counted.  You can track your ballot by setting up your NJ Voter Information System Account.  Set up your account HERE.

In closing, while there is a lot of misgivings, angst and anger over the decision for New Jersey residents to vote by mail, the state has endeavored to secure mail in ballots and make sure that each voter has the opportunity to correct their ballots, and track their ballots throughout the process.  

FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before Congress “the agency has not historically seen “any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election,” including through mail-in voting.

“Federal officials have previously said there is also no evidence showing that “foreign adversaries” are interfering in efforts to undermine mail-in voting.” According to Forbes

“A Brennan Center for Justice analysis in 2007 found incidence rates of voter fraud in past elections of between 0.00004% and 0.0009%, and the organization said in an April analysis “it is still more likely for an American to be struck by lightning than to commit mail voting fraud.”

Thomas Jefferson said “We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”  In the end, the method that you choose to return your ballot does not matter.  Your vote matters and will be counted.  On November 3, make a difference.

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